Our Final posting for One Bread, One Body – Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship

The four case studies in this book are well worth studying.  Like all congregation-specific stories, they reveal struggle and triumph, challenge and joy, setbacks and revelations, moments of transcending grace, and moments of anxiety.  From the case studies of congregations, we are reminded that there is no easy fix, no simple recipe where applying heat to specific, measured ingredients will result with some certainty in a pleasing outcome.  For people interested in worship renewal within what are known as the mainline Protestant denominations, perhaps the case studies are notable because each one of the four of the congregations in the case studies reported in their demographic overviews that over 50% of their worshippers fall into the “elusive” age 20-54 cohort.

In reading these case studies, small ideas, intentional planning, prayer, hard work, and practical talk over work tables in the church kitchen point the way to how these congregations became and are becoming intentionally more culturally conscious.

For us, the book raised our level of understanding about the concept and practice of Hospitality. 
Although it seems obvious to say it now, it felt like new learning to come to the understanding that Being Inclusive must always have at its heart Hospitality.  But Hospitality, that cheerful extended hand of welcome and compassion, can, at its worst, be hostile and exclusive:  we can choose to be welcoming only to those who we choose to welcome; we can be indifferent to who is or is not captivated by our ideas of hospitable overtures; we can be deliberately blind to the fact that there are individuals or groups who are not responding to our Hospitality.  Indeed, a significant obstacle to
renewing our worship and becoming more inclusive or culturally conscious, may be our own prideful sense that we are already Hospitable, that “we already do that”. If you are reading this, you may have heard the mystified exclamation,“But we’re so friendly!” Perhaps hospitality without conscious sensitivity is like the loveless cacophony referred to in 1 Corinthians.

This book really delivers in the last Part.  Each congregation’s worship service has its own “feel” including the nature of the worship space, how the space is adorned and symbols are used, the manner in which the congregation interacts, and the nature of the musical sounds.  This section highlights the musical sounds, especially as they unite the written word, the spoken word, and the sung word in congregational musical sound.  There is much wisdom in this section about integrating music and worship, especially culturally conscious worship where the church musician is attempting to capture a congregational vision of inclusiveness in sound.  There is a lovely discussion of the
concept of “Valence”, Michael Hawn’s own term of how music interacts with other elements in the worship environment to create something larger than the sum of the parts.

The role of a church musician is discussed, in contrast to the role of a worship enlivener.  Our interpretation is that a worship enlivener has the privilege of enacting sensitive, intentional hospitality by inviting and encouraging congregational participation and engagement in worship, especially in musical sound and movement.  Anyone interested in worship renewal would benefit from a study of the role of the worship enlivener whose tasks are discussed at length in this book. 
There is also very interesting material on song structure, music selection, and liturgical movement, all parts of what can contribute to culturally conscious worship.   
 
The book ends, true to all that has gone on before, without any “easy recipes” but with strategies that may be starting points towards culturally conscious worship to include more worldviews at the
Holy table.  There are ten practical strategies offered, and each one stands like a navigational beacon, both informed and informing.  For example, extensive discussion is offered on worship planning, hospitality, leadership, non-verbal communication and the worship space. An initial worship audit is offered as one of the helpful appendices.

The book opened with the compelling question:  Is there room at the table for my neighbour?  This book points the way to a resounding, Well yes, of course there is! 
 
So we end our final posting for One Bread, One Body –Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship by C. Michael Hawn, with the Hope we received from reading this great book, Hope that we’ll all move a little closer together to make room for more at the table! 

Until we meet again,

The Book Group from St. Andrew’s United Church, Calgary.  
 
_ The book I chose to read is “Discerning the Spirits – a guide to thinking about Christian worship today”. In the introduction, the authors state: “The main project of this book is to set a context and recommend a tone in which healthy decisions about worship may be conducted.” They are not advocating a particular approach to worship (knowing that every approach has its strengths and weaknesses), rather they encourage us all to discuss and argue (but not quarrel) about worship issues in a Christ-like manner: with respect and tolerance, humility, candor, hospitality, and forbearance. There are no easy answers, but there are some answers. These struggles play out in individual congregations, but have important ramifications for the faith as a whole. Rancor saps energy from the true purpose of church. We need to learn the fellowship of relationship as seen in the Trinity - a oneness in the unity of purpose – to move away from ‘self’ and personal preference.

It is time to move the discussion forward. In an era when Christianity is being increasingly marginalized, I am still amazed to hear judgmental wrangling by Christians regarding each other’s worship practices. Left wing/right wing, Catholic/Protestant, evangelical/mainline, Western/Orthodox, liturgical/non-liturgical, contemporary/traditional. We need to see that every tradition of worship expression has good things to offer to us all. While we all will have our own ‘emphases’, we need to expand our vision of God by learning from one another. This diversity of expression is the language of postmodern Canada.

Worship stands at the intersection of church and world/ Christ and culture. We have to be able to demonstrate to the world that Christianity leads to solutions, not divisions. We have to be counter- cultural, not anti-cultural. The first thing we need to learn to do is to be able to meaningfully talk to each other, despite our differences, regarding ways to help our 21st century worship be meaningful and transformative for our congregations (as well as for those not yet in the pews). The rest is in God’s hands.

 
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_ Book Review: Discerning the Spirits. Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. and Sue B. Rozeboom.

Allan C. Groen, M.Div., S.T.M.

The text in boxes [edited to bold-italic text] contain reflections that occurred to me as I read.

To summarize this book, I would say it provides a basic perspective for understanding what the changing world of worship is all about, its history, the cultural setting, and liturgical principles in theological perspective.

1.      Introduction: to have wise, prayerful, loving and civilized conversation around what is happening in how churches worship in our day.

a.      The past few decades have seen swift changes in how congregations spend their Sunday morning worship hour together.

b.      The book is nearly a decade old, and may not entirely reflect what is now taking place.

Contemporary worship has not only brought new kinds of music and hymns, but has also had a major impact on how pastors preach.

2.      Chapter 1: The Things of the Spirit

a.      To know which things are of the Holy Spirit requires discernment

b.      What is valuable in CW and its critique of tradition?

c.        What is valuable in the tradition that needs to be maintained?

d.      Sharp disagreements arise. But we are, or should be, united with basic, common confessional statements: incarnation, trinity, crucifixion, resurrection, etc.

e.      We need Christian character to allow the community to thrive.


3.      Chapter 3 sets the background by pointing out the great diversity of changes churches are making and their motivations. Some of the motivations are:

a.      To make services accessible to those who are not Christians.

b.      Revivals/charismatics

c.       Praise and worship

d.      To find liturgical expressions that reflect local color, and make worship more popular

e.      Contemporary worship evolved from many sources:

                                                              i.      Mass evangelism,

                                                            ii.      small group movements,

                                                          iii.       house churches

                                                           iv.      Southern gospel

                                                             v.      African-American churches

                                                           vi.      Jesus people—Maranatha music

                                                         vii.      Willow Creek

                                                       viii.      Hillsongs Music

f.        Features of Contemporary Worship

                                                              i.      Use of new technological tools

                                                            ii.      Worship teams

                                                          iii.      Worship emcees

                                                           iv.      Seldom use sacraments, Bibles, pulpits, baptismal fonts, crosses etc. avoided

                                                             v.      Make worship ‘authentic’ ‘accessible.’

g.      Why?

                                                              i.      For evangelism

                                                            ii.      To make gospel accessible to non-religious

                                                          iii.      To respond to felt needs.

                                                           iv.      Encounter with God



4.      Worship takes place in specific cultural settings. To what extent can they adapt/adopt local language and music? Is everything acceptable?

a.      Definition; culture: “the dynamic totality of our habitual, or nearly habitual, ways of being and doing in the world.”—p. 56.

b.      Cultural adaptation is:

                                                              i.      Inevitable

                                                            ii.      Desirable

                                                          iii.      Risky.

                                                           iv.      Risky: are we being faithful to the gospel?

 
For older people (I am one of them) adaptations/changes can become painful. Things we have valued in the past are abandoned, and the new becomes more difficult to appreciate.



c.       Seeking wisdom

                                                              i.      From the Word—but it gives little guidance on specifics

                                                            ii.      From the incarnation: our lives and work are under grace but also judgment. “invites us to be tailors with an eye for what fits.” 89

d.      It is messy, we do our best, but we don’t always get it right.


Spiritual Tradition: If we do our work with good intent, God will use it for God’s purposes, even if we have not been so very wise.

 

5.      Ch. 4: Basic issue: how can the One Church live with such diversity?

a.      Risks:

                                                              i.      The risk of multiculturalism is that it might Balkanize the church, each group going its own separate ways.

                                                            ii.      Truth becomes relative: what is true for you may not be true for me.

                                                          iii.      Niche marketing might accentuate our differences

                                                           iv.      We end up with churches for different tastes

b.      Gaining some perspective: good theological reflections on:

                                                              i.      The trinity: reflection on the intertrinitarian fellowship

                                                            ii.      Incarnation: both the grace and the implied judgment

                                                          iii.      Koinonia and hospitality. A Christian community becomes a safe place for diversity.

                                                           iv.      Unity as gift and calling “In healthy churches we die to our special interests and rise to the interests of brothers and sisters.” P. 114.

 When new ways of singing etc., are introduced, those who leads such change need to invite response from the congregation. My experience is that people all too often do such things without being willing to receive responses. “Like it or lump it.”

c.       Implications:

                                                              i.      Worship leaders lead hospitably.

                                                            ii.      The koinonia includes the great cloud of witnesses, this includes witnesses from previous centuries, and witnesses from around the globe.

There are wonderful resources for worship found in the works of previous generations. Will what we write today last? Very little of it will last.

6.      Worship: Telling God’s Story. Worship is narrative engagement with the Triune God. P. 126.

a.      Worship protects us against idolatry.

b.      We may enter into conversation with boldness, not sauciness.

c.       Worship deals with grace and judgments.

d.      Praise and Lament both have their place

e.      Worship is about covenant renewal, our life in Christ, and the span of history from creation to re-creation.

There is no ruler than can serve to identify exactly what could or should not happen in a Christian service of worship. However, this book contains a good many suggestions that can help us in the process of discernment.

Worship leaders would do well to take the time to read some books such as this to equip them for their work, and they would make fewer mistakes.


 
_ Here’s our summary of the Part I of One Bread, One Body.   Lots of interesting, practical  material for a congregation intending their worship to become more diverse.


St. Andrew’s Book Group

One Bread, One Body Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship

Part 1

This section of the book addresses culture and worship.  It is a common belief in the US that they live in a “melting pot” where cultures have blended.  The author believes that in reality the US is more of a mosaic with many distinct aspects of different cultures side by side.  Churches are often centres for ethnic activities and identity formation.

The author suggests that there are 4 ways in which we worship together:

1.      Cultural Uniformity assumes those gathered together have common backgrounds.  In practice this can lead to vital worship.  There is a risk that a congregation’s ethnocentric perspective can limit its worldview.  It may not prepare participants for a diverse society.  It becomes a refuge.

2.      Cultural Assimilation assumes a dominant cultural perspective for all participants regardless of their background.  Often these congregations are sensitive to the needs of the surrounding community and welcome the community on Sundays if they can assimilate.  There is often an inconsistency between the “welcome to all” and the non-verbal cues.

3.      Culturally Open Worship differs from cultural assimilation by the degree to which those with different cultural perspectives are included in the decision making process.

4.      Cultural Partnership has no clear majority that dominates and the cultural diversity reflects the surrounding neighbourhood.  “Christ, the imaginative artist, creates a mosaic out of the disparate cultures of the world”.  This way of worship offers rich possibilities.

The author suggests congregations find themselves on the above spectrum before trying to implement changes.

It is suggested that all of us have bias and prejudices.  We have bias from our cultural upbringing but a healthy bias acknowledges other views.  Prejudice results from the assumption that our way is the only way.


Interaction of Worship and Culture

1.      Transcultural  - some aspects of worship transcend culture.  Some examples include baptism, communion, the Lord’s Prayer, observance of Lent & Easter.

2.      Contextual – all worship is contextual, reflecting the specific culture found in a congregation or community.  If we become too myopic we risk prejudice.

3.      Countercultural – there are aspects of all cultures that run contrary to God’s plan for us.  Congregations need to find which aspects of culture strengthen the community and which may be contrary to God’s plan.  Also, do some aspects of worship exclude some of the community due to age, gender, socioeconomic status or race?

4.      Cross Cultural – this stresses the importance of different elements of culture (music, postures, etc.) and that they should be respected when used in other places in the world.



One of the purposes of this book is to help congregations achieve a cross-cultural style of worship.  Every congregation has their own style, which needs to be considered.  Members need to look at music, greetings, vestments, the use of silence, symbols, the names of worship space, etc.  Often the non-verbal parts of the worship are the most important.  These may include the instruments used, silence, whether children are present during worship, and oral or written aspects of the service.



Different cultures, communities and congregations have different sense of time.  This can be seen in the length of the service, short or long.  Also, some cultures have a linear sense of time while others have a cyclical sense of time.  With a linear sense of time there are aspects of worship to be accomplished with an appropriate timetable.  With a cyclical sense of time, community building is often more important than a timetable.  One example of this is with repetitive music that repeats until the community feels moved to something else.

There are many variables in our worship styles that may invite or inhibit others worshipping with us.

 

 
_  Book summary and reflections on:

 “A More Profound Alleluia.  Theology and Worship in Harmony.”

 Leanne Van Dyk, Editor.

 
By:  Brigitte Mueller, January 8th, 2012-01-08

 
This week, we celebrated the feasts of Epiphany and the Baptism of our Lord, but many Orthodox Christians in the world, and also in my town, celebrated Christmas according to the Julian calendar.  In speaking to an Orthodox friend, I asked  this friend what the Orthodox Christmas greeting was (since we all know the Easter greeting)  and he taught me:  “Christ is born!” and the response is “Let us glorify him!” -- How beautiful this is! --For every other day of the year the greeting is:  “Glory be to Jesus!” and the response is “His glory is forever!”  My friend bemoaned that it seems that we Protestant Christians cannot seem to learn these other greetings.  He said:  Imagine if we could great each other this way all the time!  What beautiful greetings!

Indeed.  This little exchange with my friend encapsulates for me what “A More Profound Alleluia” is about.   The aim of the book is to establish a deep connection between liturgical worship and theology in order to make both deeply meaningful, also intellectually, for the individual, the family, and the worshipping community.  The books seems to me to be an attempt at correcting  what has become seen as a shallower, dumbed -down expression of the faith both in worship and theology.  We do not hear much about what is felt to be dumbed -down as the book does not dwell on this.  The area of the hymns chosen for the service is obviously one in which it is felt important to used our very best resources.

The relationship between worship and theology and how each informs, affects and reinforces the other reminds us of the famous dictum:  Lex orandi, lex credendi.   According to our trusty Wikipedia this “relationship between worship and belief is an ancient Christian principle which provided a measure for developing the ancient Christian creeds, the canon of scripture and other doctrinal matters based on the prayer texts of the church, that is, the Church’s liturgy.  In the Early church there were about 69 years of liturgical tradition before there was a creed and about 350 years before there was a biblical canon.  These liturgical traditions provided the theological framework for establishing the creeds and canon.” 

We see, therefore, that hymns and prayers preceded the creeds and the canon, and when we think about it, this is how we often learned the faith from our families, that is through oral story telling, the night -time and meal-time prayers and songs we learned, even as very little children or infants.  In addition to the fact that liturgy is ancient, basic to the faith, has been passed down from the very beginning and has a vital interplay with theology, it also functions as a unifier in ecumenical efforts.  If we can go back and agree on the prayers and hymns, we may be able to sharpen our theological understandings in a way that makes them actually broader and more inclusive. To get back for a moment to the Orthodox and their lovely Christo-centric greetings, apparently the Pariarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople quoted this phrase on the occasion of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI:  “in liturgy, we are reminded of the need to reach unity in faith as well as in prayer.”

In my opinion, this is the thrust of the book.  In order to examine various liturgical moments and how they relate to faith and doctrine, several different writers with different backgrounds and interests juxtapose various elements.  The result is a book which is more of a mosaic than a didactic or systematic treatise  on the subject. 

 
_In the preface to the series of articles we have a statement of the purpose of the book:

Part of our mandate at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and in this series of books, is to make the connections between worship and the various facets of Christian thought and life explicit and instructive in ways that promote deeper and more vital worship practices. This particular volume highlights arguable the most important connections that need to be made for worship to be well grounded—namely, the connections between our liturgical actions and our understanding of the God we worship. After all, as D.A. Carson has observed, “worship” is a transitive verb. What is important is not that we worship, but rather that we worship God. (p. Ix)

Immediately we are told that traditional patterns of hymnody offer a rich resource for both worship and theology. What might be surprising is that many hymns in this pattern have also been written in recent history. Each chapter of the book contains one or more hymn texts also for this reason: “Indeed, hymn poems are a wonderful resource for devotional use by individual use by individuals, families, groups, and congregations. Worship leaders should consider recommending one hymn text per week for private or group reflection and then singing the hymn in worship as a simple way of connecting private and corporate worship."

This is an amazingly simple idea, yet, excellent in my mind. If we could agree on certain texts for devotions and memorizing and worked on this together, we could accumulate quite a treasure for our families and congregations. Various other benefits of understanding hymns well are highlighted here in the preface.

The introduction stresses that worship is a Christian activity of the highest importance, as in it we are fed by the good food of word and sacrament. “Worship is for Christians both ‘primary school’ and ‘graduate school’—a place where we are always learning the basics of how to be in true relationship to God and yet also reaching for the advanced skills we need for obedient and faithful Christian lives.” A Lutheran might put this sentence a little differently, but the idea of “primary school” and “graduate school” at the same time really hits home to me. What we sing and what we teach our smallest children should nourish us all our lives through, in the deep joys and sorrows of life, even death. As Luther said about the catechism for example, even the most experienced professional theologian needs to ground himself in the basics every day. And those are the greatest who can know and teach the catechism well. Our basic teachings, prayers and songs, are the school of learning how to live and how to die—a very profound Alleluia, indeed, so help us God.

One of the contributors, Don Saliers, specializes in the theology of Karl Barth. He notes that “the dependence of theology on worship runs so deep in the theology of Karl Barth that ‘critical theological thinking is secondary and therefore derivative of the first-order theology shown in praying to God.’ The image of first-order theology as prayer captures the mutual relationships explored in this book. It is the conviction of the authors that the theological implications of worship and the worship implications of theology are worthy of careful reflection. “

I, myself, have never heard of “first-order theology”, nor prayer belonging to this category. The reason for this might be because I am not a student of Karl Barth, but rely on Luther most of the time. But this statement makes some sense to me in my own way of thinking. While “critical theological thinking” might be something like a systematic theology, prayers might be something more like the Psalter, the original prayer book, which consists of so much poetry and sighing of the heart to God both in praise and deep need. The feelings and thoughts of the psalms are accessible to all of us who pray. Thus we are joined in a common humanity and as a congregation in our orientation toward God in our daily experiences.

This makes me think of something else: on the internet I often have conversations with people who are lapsed from the faith or even have become ardent atheists or anti-theists. Some meditate in the way of different Buddhist schools, etc. Even here we have a connection with prayer. At times, when I speak with them, I come to the point of prayer and say something to the effect of: I cannot imagine life without prayer, without thanksgiving, without making intercession, without asking for forgiveness, without asking for help and guidance. The non-Christian then usually says that they can’t imagine it either, only they feel they don’t actually need anyone to pray to. This is obviously where we part ways. Whom we pray to is exactly what matters. Whom we worship is of the essence if he is the living God who has revealed himself, who has loved us and redeemed us and made the way open for prayer in the first place. But still the fact that we have the need for prayers of the same kind, is something primal and basic to human beings. In any case, I am guessing that something like this is implied in “first–order theology”.

Submitted by Brigitte Mueller, Bruderheim AB

 
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Interested in involving children in the music life of your congregation?  Check out this valuable resource from The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod:


Planting Musical Seeds for the Future
"Children Making Music," a DVD from the former Commission on Worship, is sure to strike a chord with every LCMS congregation where music plays an important role in worship.

Music and the Gospel
Music and the proclamation of the Gospel go hand in glove. As scripture teaches us in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish each other with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." We want today's children to have an appreciation for music and the important vehicle it is for the proclamation of the Gospel.

True to its title, "Children Making Music" highlights youth participating in what Martin Luther called "an outstanding gift of God," second only to theology. Scenes were shot at Lutheran churches and schools across the country.

The Joy of Music Young musicians highlighted in the DVD include those from Trinity Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas. Not so long ago, that congregation's adult choir had dwindled to eight (on a good Sunday) in a congregation of some 1,600.

Former music director, Mary Mountford  revitalized music at Trinity, building the adult choir to about 60 and starting a popular children's program. It continues to stay strong today. "It takes work, and you have to make it fun," said Mountford, who was a former Commission on Worship member and helped develop the DVD.

With encouragement from Trinity's Pastor Michael Dorn, Mountford began a conservatory at the church to offer piano and guitar lessons. She launched the school's Trinity Singers, building participation through fun incentives-opportunities to perform with live animals at the Christmas Eve pageant and earn recognition at an awards banquet for veteran singers.


How to Use the DVD
"Children Making Music" runs 30 minutes and is divided into three segments aimed at children, parents, and pastors and educators, respectively.

Dr. Paul Grime, who initiated the DVD project, hopes congregations will play the video at board meetings and Bible classes, for Parent Teacher Leagues and Sunday school students. He grew acutely aware of the shortage of church musicians (and the shrinking supply of people to lead church music programs) in his former post as Commission on Worship executive director.

"If the DVD is shown in just half our congregations and schools, and if it provides the needed encouragement to only a couple of students in each parish, that would ultimately mean several thousand additional musicians who might one day be leading our congregations in song," said Grime, now dean of the chapel and associate professor of pastoral ministry and missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

"Children Making Music" was developed by a committee representing three Lutheran church bodies: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). The Marvin M. Schwan Charitable Foundation provided funding.

An extensive list of resources for making music with children is available here.

 
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_We're delighted to have received our first review for the online book club!  Our friends at St. Andrew's United Church in Calgary submitted the following review.  Your comments and dialogue are encouraged!

-Lorne


"One Bread, One Body - Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship" by C. Michael Hawn.
Submitted by Lauralyn Chow, St. Andrew's United Church, Calgary

This is a book with three introductions:  one foreward, an editor's preface (this book is one in a series called Vital Worship, Healthy Congregations) and an author's preface.  We found these three folios to be so thought-provoking, that we thought we’d post some ideas that are directly from the book, and some thoughts that arose from our reading of the book.  They are thoughts, or opinions for consideration, and are not posted as unassailable truths.

The uniting notion for these introductions is a theory or hypothesis that worship should be intentionally inclusive of a diversity of cultures, so that the gospel is shared, and so that all listeners and participants may call the gospel and the worship experience their own.  The concept of "cultures" is used in a wide sense to capture groups who are distinct by culture, race, ethnicity, language, generation, and so forth.

A gathering of thoughts:
  • Worship is always contextual:  while the worship of a particular congregation is part of the worship of the entire church catholic and the work of the Spirit in the church, it is also the worship of this particular congregation, at this time in world history, in this particular setting
  • So there is this dual context:  the work of the Spirit, and, for this book, a focus on the growing multicultural society in which churches find themselves 
  • ·Looking at the story of Pentecost, we have always known Pentecost to be a miracle of communication.  If we go a little deeper, beyond the description that everyone could hear "each in their own tongue", we may begin to understand that the communication was not merely the transfer of ideas from one mind to another, but from the Latin, communicare, to share or make common.
  • True communication of the gospel means it is no longer the exclusive property of the original messenger, but is now fully shared with "the other".  Sharing means losing control, power, and exclusive ownership. 
  • Many main-line denominations speak of the need to welcome diverse people and respond to new cultures in our midst, while membership continues to decline and little progress is made in attracting new constituencies
  • A church may serve the community and be diverse during the week (offering food, clothing, counsel, and so on), but gathered on a Sunday morning, people from the community may only be welcome if they assimilate into the worship patterns of the existing community.  And, there may be inconsistency between the explicit language (“All are welcome”) and the nonverbal signals.
  • Does our church community seem more culturally homogeneous on Sunday, when compared to any other day of the week? 
  • Does our church community seem more culturally homogeneous than the community beyond its doors?
  • Is our problem that we want to be welcoming, but only when people are either like us already, or do we explicitly or implicitly only welcome people who are ready to become like us, to adapt to our ways of being the church, our forms of worship (named cultural assimilation in worship in this book) 
  • Is our problem that we don’t want to share ownership and control over how we worship
  • There is delightful foreshadowing that the book will consider solutions to crossing cultural boundaries to make church a welcoming place for all, involving some of the nonverbal elements of worship (music, gesture, sounds, movement, symbols, space)—attending to non-verbal elements of worship may take us beyond more than language barriers. 
  • At the same time, non-verbal signals have different meanings in different cultures.
  • Worship is of course about meaning so language is central, but it also about non-verbal elements
  • For the church born at Pentecost, to offer worship that is truly Pentecostal in nature, the church must seek to worship in a way that affirms a multiplicity of cultures
  • The book will offer 4 case studies of 4 congregations in the Dallas area, exploring ways to share in worship across boundaries of race, culture and other boundaries
  • Which is as simple and as challenging as planning worship that is more fully inclusive of God’s people, a taste of Pentecost, so that the church may be faithful to its nature and calling
  • An emphasis that this is not easy work, a journey of pain and possibilities that will challenge people’s comfort zones
  • Some comments about factors contributing to “spiritually vital” worship that will thereby strengthen congregational life:
                *  Best “practice” will have not only good content but good process with honest respectful                    communication
                *  Worship that integrates with the whole life of the congregation, so that the worship will                         reflect and shape the life of the church, and the life of the church will reflect and shape                         the worship
                *  The congregation and worship leaders share a vision for worship grounded on more                         than personal aesthetic taste
                *  Worship as an expression of a congregation’s view of God and an enactment of a                             congregation’s relationship with God.
  • The book is written in three parts:  the case studies (Part II) and then the discussion of the non-verbal, with a focus on music and congregational singing (Part III) comprise most of the book.  Part I identifies the tools to help determine exactly how a given congregation’s cultural content can be evaluated.
  • However, the title of Part I is worth contemplating all on its own: Is There Room for My Neighbour at the Table?
We’ll report on Part I after Christmas.

Blessed Advent Everyone!

Book Group from St. Andrew’s United Church, Calgary.

 
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_Dear Symposium Book Club friends:

Greetings to you in Jesus’ name!

The symposium committee is so excited that you’ve chosen to participate in this book club, to foster worship renewal in your congregations, and to share your insights and new perspectives with us online.Here’s how we’ll get the book club going, including the exciting online-exchange component: 1.You’ll receive your book in the mail (if you need more copies, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to help you);
2.Meet with a group in your congregation interested in worship renewal and assign a chapter or two each month (or weekly, if you’d like to move at a faster pace) and agree on a gathering date to come together again to talk, reflect, and share;
3.Have someone collect the reflections and conclusions you reach about worship renewal, according to what you’ve read and discussed;
4.Submit this (paragraphs, pictures, or even other media) to me by email and I’ll post it on the book club blog;
5.Share the book club blog site with your reading group’s participants;
6.I’ll notify other book club leaders of the new blog post and will encourage you to comment and exchange ideas online.

Some helpful discussion starters for implementing and sustaining worship renewal, which might help get things started in your reading group, are: ·How does what we’ve read apply to our theological/dogmatic tradition? ·How will we foster new habits of worship? ·How will we involve new people in planning and leading worship? ·How will we, with the Holy Spirit’s help, develop new gifts in worshippers and leaders? ·How will we foster a new understanding of worship and its place in our worshipping community? ·What new congregation resources can we allocate or what new programs can we implement to foster worship renewal? ·What can we ask God, in prayer, to help us with in our personal and corporate worship lives?

Please remember to mark January 25, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. as the date and time for Concordia’s annual hymn festival at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Old Strathcona.Stay tuned for your invitation to a dinner after the hymn festival at which we’ll gather to visit together and to discuss how your book club is going.We’ll meet in April, 2012 to finalize your book club and exchange your final reflections and results of your reading and how it impacted worship renewal in your congregation.

Please feel free to email if you have questions or comments.May our Lord richly bless your reading, study, conversations, and renewal!

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Lorne Manweiler
Interim Director, Concordia Worship and Music Symposium 2012
Pastor, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Instructor of Organ, Concordia University College of Alberta